Nearly 70 Turks on Greek ship tested positive for COVID-19, being treated aboard: Turkish ambassador
Sevil Erkuş – ANKARA
Nearly 70 Turkish nationals aboard a Greek cruise ship have been tested positive for COVID-19 and taken under treatment in the vessel off Greece’s coast, Burak Özügergin, Turkish ambassador in Athens, told Hürriyet Daily News on April 5.
There were a total of 151 Turkish nationals on the ship, along with nine foreigners holding residence permits in Turkey, said the ambassador, adding that those who tested negative for COVID-19 have been disembarked from the ship and placed at hotels by the Greek authorities. The number of coronavirus-positive Turkish nationals are nearly 70, according to information provided by Greek officials, he noted.
On April 3, Nikos Hardalias, Greece’s deputy minister for civil protection, announced that those tested positive would be treated aboard the ship while those who tested negative would be accommodated at a hotel in Athens where they would be taken into a 14-day quarantine. The ship’s operator had earlier announced that 119 people aboard had the virus.
Turks who have been tested negative and placed at two hotels in the city will also wait for 14 days of quarantine and then will be evacuated to Turkey, Özügergin also said.
Their evacuation to Turkey will be held by a convoy of buses, whose drivers are hired from Komotini in the western Thrace region in Greece and their security will be provided by the Greek police, said the ambassador.
The Greek vessel that set off from the Çeşme district of the western İzmir province in Turkey in early March carrying 383 people had been waiting on the shores of the Greek city of Piraeus.
The ship, “Eleftherios Venizelos,” sailed from Turkey to Spain after a Turkish company rented out the vessel to carry workers. However, Spain did not allow the ship to dock at its port after the virus outbreak. The vessel then returned to Turkey and requested permission to enter the country about two weeks ago.
The request of the vessel to approach Aliağa port in İzmir was not accepted by Turkish authorities which asked to evacuate only Turkish citizens off the coast. But this was not accepted by the captain since the evacuation of such a large cruise off the coast would be unsafe.
The vessel then sailed to the Piraeus port of Greece and tried to dock at the port there, but the Greek authorities also did not allow them to approach the port when suspected virus cases were detected. It has been under quarantine at the port since then.
Along with 151 Turkish nationals and nine foreign passengers holding residence permits in Turkey, the ship has 36 crew members and 187 passengers from other countries.